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Raising Philanthropic Children

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Nothing sweeter than Girl Scouts

Late February and early March may be a gloomy time of the year in most parts of the country, but if there is one thing that brightens all of our lives it is the beginning of Girl Scout cookie season. Half of the year I suffer from a mild depression when my freezer no longer contains thin mints and don’t get me started on how much I love tagalongs.  This year, there is something really special about all of this, its the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scout cookie and their sales. Who knew a cookie could make such a difference in all of our lives?

The other day with my cookie order on my mind,  I had a great conversation with a friend, who told me I needed to meet one of his dear friends, an amazing woman named Frances Hesselbein. My friend, author Mike Stallard, began describing this incredible woman who transformed the Girl Scouts and so many more lives.  I knew I needed to know more about this amazing woman and how she has used her life to inspire so many others…

Frances, the mother of one son, went from Girl Scout troop leader to CEO of the Girl Scouts and was accredited with turning the organization around. She grew the organization to over 2,25 million girls and had a volunteer workforce of 780,000 during her time. In 1998 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with the Girl Scouts.

In November, 2011 she told Forbes Magazine, “When I left the Girl Scouts in 1990, it was the largest organization for girls and women in the world. Six weeks later I found myself CEO of the Drucker Foundation, with no money, no staff and just a powerful vision. Peter encouraged us to focus on the type of change that will determine whether or not we are, all of us, a part of the future.”

Today the Girl Scouts is the world’s most successful organization dedicated to creating girl leaders with 3.2 million active members and over 59 million alumni! Truly nothing sweeter than using your life to make others better. Frances will be 102 in November.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Matters of the heart

As  February comes to a close I wanted to make sure that the last post of the month was about the heart. As many of you know I became friends with a wonderful family, the Pages thorough my work at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. They are an inspirational family and despite the adversity they have faced in light of their son’s congenital heart disease, they always find a way to turn a negative into something positive for someone else.

Some of you may remember Max, as young Darth Vadar in the infamous Volkswagen commercial a few years back. I received an email from Jennifer the other day about a new campaign Max is helping shine some light on, called Mended Little Hearts.

This inspiring organization began in 2004, when four heart patients came together in Boston to discuss their heart surgery experiences.  Out of that meeting came the recognition to support these families of children born with heart defects and heart disease.

 

Today, Mended Little Hearts has over 10,000 members and over 80 Chapters in the U.S. and Mexico. Proof that one heart can heal so many others.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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The Do Good Bus

Since this week’s theme is teamwork, it seemed like the perfect time to share one of the most fun team building activities to hit the philanthropic world in a long time…The Do Good Bus.  Last spring, I was at an event for Project Giving Kids and was introduced to this amazing woman named Rebecca Pontius . When I found out what she does, I knew I had to share with each of you…because it is just the coolest most fun thing EVER!

 

Rebecca is the founder of the non-profit, The Do Good Bus. The Do Good Bus idea came together when Rebecca and her brother were on a party bus for a 30th birthday party. They had friends from everywhere, who didn’t know one another and she and her brother surprised all the guests with the destination of the party last-minute. The party was such a success that Rebecca and her brother had an idea that they  could use this same format to connect volunteers and non-profits, making volunteering fun. Their mission was to give people an opportunity to get involved, do good together and learn more about their community.

Here is how it works:

Today, almost six years later, the Do Good Bus has taken over 180 rides with almost 5,000 do gooders to over 109 causes.  I asked Rebecca, if she knew when she had made a difference, and her answer was, “Every time you get on the  bus and see strangers connecting, rolling up their sleeves to volunteer and do something great for a non-profit in need and then share stories together like old friends..that’s when I know we have made a difference.” 

As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Always a storyteller, rarely the story

For all of you that have followed Charity Matters over the past few years, most of you know that I truly enjoy being the storyteller. I am Irish after all, so I guess it comes naturally? However, when the Good News Only site called Hooplaha.com approached me about doing a story on Charity Matters….well, the tables were turned.

The Hooplaha team and I share a common belief that people are innately good and more than that, good news and stories about good people doing great work need to be shared. So with that in mind, if this so inspires you, please feel free to share. The world needs more kindness and goodness, so thanks for spreading some and check out Hooplaha if you need a little happy news to brighten your day.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Charity begins at home….and raising charitable children

charity-begins-at-home

We have all heard the expression that, “Charity begins at home,” a phrase that I wholeheartedly agree with.  However, when people approach me about how to “teach” philanthropy and giving to their children…my response is that giving isn’t necessarily something you “teach” but rather a value that you adopt and model as a family.

In thinking about the best way to show your children how to care for others and to foster their love of helping others, reflect upon your own values and your families. If that is a goal for your family, then start by creating a culture of kindness and generosity where giving becomes something natural that your family does together.

Some other tips on raising charitable children…..

1. Start young, the earlier the better. For little ones (4 or 5), keep it simple, perhaps canned food for a local shelter or blankets for the homeless. Something that they understand.

2. Be age appropriate. Don’t overwhelm young children with world hunger but rather something relatable to them, perhaps something local in your community.

3. Engage your children in the process, especially the older they get. Find out what they care about? Perhaps they love animals and want to support a local shelter? Have them use their passion to make a difference. I have one son who struggled to learn to read, today he reads to children who struggle with the same thing he did.

4. Research together and suggests a few choices. With 1.9 million non-profits it can be overwhelming for all of us. Our family usually picks 3 or 4 ideas and then we vote on a holiday philanthropy project. We have adopted soldiers, fed homeless, adopted inner city families for Christmas. Ultimately it is the kids vote that decides.

5.  Be intentional with your own giving. Teach by example. Discuss what causes you care about. Let your children hear and see your volunteer efforts or participate in them if possible.

6.  Make giving habitual by being consistent. Whether its part of your allowance structure, a holiday tradition or something you do at birthdays, be consistent and establish giving as a tradition and habit. It’s no different from any sport, the more you participate the easier and more fun it becomes. Ultimately it becomes a part of who they are.

7.  Emphasize the joy and the experience of giving rather than money. Philanthropy is about being a part of something bigger than yourself. Giving is so much more fun than receiving. Make it a joyful experience for your family and something you share in together. Perhaps, start with entering a 5k walk or charity run or volunteering together.

The benefits of philanthropic children: These from Julie Nesbit of Whittier Trust

  1. Opens children’s eyes to the fact that others are not as fortunate as they are
  2. Develops empathetic thinking
  3. Fosters an appreciation for what they have
  4. Enhances self-esteem
  5. Correlates to improved performance in school

Like everything we do with raising our children, it takes time , patience, consistency and love.  Chances are you already do most of these things and don’t even realize it and your children do too. This holiday season, enjoy the process of giving in whatever way you decide to participate. You and your children will experience the real joy of the holidays….together.

Charity  Matters.

 

 

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#GivingTuesday 2016

giving-tuesday-2016

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, a successful black friday, are enjoying your cyber monday and are now ready for the most important day of all…tomorrow’s #GivingTuesday. What is #GivingTuesday, you ask? It is a movement that began in 2012 to celebrate and support giving and philanthropy.

More than that, #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that last year united over 70 countries around the world by sharing our human capacity to care for and empower one another. And today more than ever we need to be doing a little bit more of that…

What I think is even more fantastic, is the volunteering efforts that go along with the day.  If you are not sure where to start then merely go to the #GivingTuesday link here and you will find a list of local volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. Last year alone over 700,000 people volunteered for clothing drives, tutoring projects and a wide range of activities aimed at helping local non-profits across the country. Almost 40,000 charities, corporate and civic partners registered to officially be a part of Giving Tuesday this year.

Sheila Herring from the Case Foundation was quoted as saying,”The biggest thing for us is that Giving Tuesday directly challenges Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where you have analysts lining up to look at the numbers as a gauge of the health of our economy. What if, as a nation, we focused that kind of attention on giving and we wanted that to be our identity?”

What if? Our world would be a better place. And it already is because what started as an idea, just five years ago, raised over $116,000,000 last year for charities and causes around the world. When we come together in unity, we can make beautiful things happen. I can’t wait to hear what you are doing tomorrow on #GivingTuesday.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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When two worlds collide

caylin_moore_spark

Don’t you love it when your worlds collide? As many of you know I have been a passionate supporter at an all boys school in Watts, called Verbum Dei, also referred to as “The Verb.” The Verb is a school where young men come from poverty, are given a white-collar job one day a week and attend school the remaining four days. One hundred percent of these amazing young men are accepted to four-year colleges.

Another school, that I am a passionate supporter of is Texas Christian University, also known as TCU. A school that has incredible connection culture and a spirit of kindness. The other day, it was brought to my attention that one of our Verb boys is at TCU playing football as a Quarter back, his name is Caylin Moore.

Caylin was raised in poverty by a loving single mother. He went to Verbum Dei High School, where he was a star student and athlete. This past week he was recognized for his community service work as the founder of SPARK, which stands for Strong Players Are Reaching Kids. A TCU Student organization whose mission is to, “Inspire the youth to rise above their circumstances, build bridges to success and ultimately spark a change in their communities.”

 

Caylin and his fellow TCU athletes are traveling around the Fort Worth community inspiring children to reach for their dreams, regardless of where they are starting. Caylin uses his own story to encourage others. As he said, “I’ve seen how important education is and how it can change a life.” 
One amazing young man and two incredible institutions collide to create a SPARK of goodness for so many.
Charity Matters.
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Live for Others Foundation

tim-vorenkamp

No matter how many post I write, the miracle of the human spirit always continues to inspire me and leave me in awe. The one I am about to share, is no exception. It is the story of an Orange County, CA teenager named Tim Vorenkamp who was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma. A cancer so rare that is only strikes 1 to 3 out of every million. The boy as rare as his cancer, determined to make a difference with the hand he was dealt……which is exactly what he did.

Tim used his illness to help bring awareness to this horrible disease and to establish the Live for Others Foundation.

Sadly, Tim lost his battle on January 10th, 2016 but his legacy lives on in the foundation he and his family began. As he said in the video, ” Battling cancer you never lose, and you will never lose. Even if one day the fight ends! Once something like this happens, you never lose, you just start a new journey.

Charity Matters.

 

 

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St. Sebastian Project

The Gurbach Family
The Gurbach Family

As fall kicks into gear and we all begin to settle into our new school year routines, one thing that I always look forward to is watching my boys participate in sports. There is nothing more fun that sitting with a group of parents who are all cheering their children on.

A few weeks ago, I sat down for lunch with an amazing woman and non-profit founder, named Clare Gurbach. Clare has two daughters that are college athletes and her youngest daughter seems to be following in the family footsteps. We talked about our children, sports and the moment that all of those came together to inspire Clare to help so many children keep playing sports.

 

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start your non-profit?

Clare: In 2007, I was watching our oldest daughter play volleyball and seeing the disparity in resources between our team and one we were playing. The other team did not have nice uniforms. Some of the girls had masking tape on the back of their shirts for their numbers. Many did not have knee pads or proper shoes. Our team had everything and a professional coach as well. Winning that game 25-2 was not a good outcome for anyone.

We were called to action to “level the playing field” in providing uniforms, sports equipment and resources for under-resourced Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  We named our non-profit The Saint Sebastian Sports Project after the patron saint of athletes.”

CM: What fuels you to keep doing this work?

Seeing the huge impact we are having as we have grown. We know that sports help children in so many ways. Beyond the obvious physical benefits of playing sports, children also learn sportsmanship, commitment, and leadership and have fun at the same time. Our students must maintain a minimum GPA to play on their teams so they are incentivized to work hard in school.”

CM: When do you know you have made a difference?

“When we see the smiles on the faces of all the children we serve. When we visit the students at school and bring the schools’ funds and equipment to support their sports programs.  When students attend our various tournaments, camps and college visit days at USC and LMU.  Many of our students are now trying out for their high school teams that never would have had this opportunity in the past.”

Tell us what your impact been? 

“During the 2009-2010 academic year, we were able to support seven sports programs. This academic school year we will assist 39 schools with grants and  will serve at least 2,500 students this year.

There are 100 schools in Archdiocese of Los Angeles that need funding. We hope to find more foundation money and person donations to fuel additional growth in the future.”

Now that is a win-win for everyone.

 

Charity Matters.

 

 

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Crayon Collection

crayoncollection

Ever wonder what happens when you go out to eat and your children leave all their free crayons behind at the restaurant? Well you are not alone, one LA mom did too. Her name is Sheila Michail Morovati and after dinning out weekly at their families favorite restaurant, she noticed all of the unused crayons being left behind. After a little research she learned that there are actually 150 million neglected crayons that get tossed every year in the U.S. Who knew?

Determined to teach her children And so the Crayon Collection was born. Here is how it works:  The non-profit organization creates presentations for each restaurant that signs on, gets trained in how to collect the crayons so that they are clean and not soiled, and how to store them. The restaurant is paired with a school about 2-5 miles away and a crayon pick-up is scheduled for about once a month, to get those crayons to the school and in the hands of students who will actually use them.

Believe it or not, they even take those scrappy not so pretty crayons too. “The schools we are serving are so under supplied that even the chalky crayons offer some benefit,” said founder Sheila Morovati.

The goal is simply to reallocate gently used crayons from restaurants, and in the process begin to teach children at a very young age about the needs of other children who can benefit from this simple resource so often taken for granted, teaching the joy of generosity and recycling for a greater good….all while helping another.

Now that seems like the perfect art of childhood….

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Summer kindness in action

kid mow kindness

I know on monday, I asked the question where is the love? I thought today I would share a little piece of inspiration. A friend reached out to me when she saw this and thought of Charity Matters and it made me smile, so my hope is that it does the same for you.

Last week a Minnesota police officer came home to find his front lawn newly mowed and this note taped on his front door. The note was left by the young neighbor and lawn mower, who wanted to show his support of the local police by doing something kind for the officer.  He says, “Because your job is hard enough and I think people like you should know that we are behind you guys. Take the extra hour that it takes to mow and spend time doing what you love.”

A beautiful gesture and a perfect follow-up to Project Giving Kids Summer Kindness Challenge.…as well as the answer to the question…Where is the love? Love is all around us, we just have to look, and to share it all.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Ideas for summer kindness

PGK summer kindness

On Monday, I shared a guest blog post by Molly Yuska, founder of Project Giving Kids. In it, she reflected on the importance of teaching kindness, not only for the healthy development of our children but for our society and our world at large.

This summer, Project Giving Kids is challenging kids and families everywhere to get in on the action to see just how far and wide the message of kindness can be spread. You too can join the #SummerKindnessChallenge.

Any act of kindness, however big or small, will do. Quick, easy, important and the only way to make our world better, one small act of kindness at a time.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

 

Guest blogger: Molly Yuska Project Giving Kids

Since Charity Matters just celebrated its 5 year anniversary it seems time for some fresh perspectives. So I have invited our first guest blogger, my friend and non-profit founder, Molly Yuska. Molly is not only a mother but founded Project Giving Kids, a place to empower and teach children about philanthropy.

So, without further ado, here is Molly….

molly yuska pic

 

For many of us, the world has started to feel rather scary lately. Almost every week there seems to be a report of some major attack somewhere on our small planet. I can’t help but think how much scarier it must feel to kids who can’t remember a time when the world seemed at peace.

I believe when faced with these kinds of tragedies, we have a choice – to move away in fear and try to hold on even tighter to safeguard our own self-interest in hopes the tighter grip will protect us just a little bit more (or at least make us feel that way) OR to put the fear aside and see it as a call to action, a call to spread kindness and to turn that dark tide back toward the light.

I recently came across an article about kindness and kids. In it, a teacher by the name of Marlem Diaz-Brown states: “I have learned that when you teach kindness and compassion to students and they really understand the concept, everything else falls into place. This should be the first lesson of every teacher.” (Article: http://bit.ly/25IIynS)

Whether the teacher be a parent, an after-school mentor, a grandparent or an actual teacher, I think our children today, perhaps more than any generation that has come before it, need to be reminded of the power of kindness. I want my children to live in a world where they don’t walk the streets in fear of what senseless tragedy may come next. I want them to walk the streets knowing that the power of kindness is stronger than the fear that drives violence. And the sooner we turn them on to their own power to create ripples of kindness, the better off we all will be. After all, kindness is a choice like any other.

I couldn’t have said it better myself! If you want quick and easy project ideas your family can use to begin teaching kindness, visit Project Giving Kids.

Charity Matters.

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

 

National Volunteer Week is now

National Voluntter week is now

Who knew that this week is National Volunteer week? In case you missed the memo from the White House, or your local news didn’t deem it important enough to cover, consider yourself informed…or at least you will be, by then of this.

National Volunteer Week, a program of Points of Light  was established in 1974 and has grown each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled for the week. The week is all about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about showing that by working together, we can do anything. National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging people to be at the center of social change – discovering and  demonstrating their power to make a difference.

If you don’t know where to start, take a peak at one of my favorite sites, Volunteer Match.org. You just type in your zip code, what you love to do and it will match with an organization that can use your help, in your community.

I know its monday and you are thinking of all you have to do this week, but maybe….just maybe you have a moment you can give to make someone else’s life better. So text your friends, your children, your family and make a plan to do something this week…it all starts with you!

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.